Petra, Jordan

by Andrada Costoiu

 Petra is one of the most impressive archeological sites in the world. It was the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom and it was established more than 10,000 year ago. Along with the the Great Wall of China, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Colosseum in Rome, and the Taj Mahal in India, Petra was voted to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

I visited it during the month of August. I was lucky, it wasn’t so hot! But you never know, the summer has usually very hot weather and they say that the best time to visit is during spring (March-May).

The place is more incredible that you can imagine, and nothing that you read can prepare you for immersing in its immensity and its history. 

When you drive the desert to reach Petra’s site, you don’t see anything. Petra is so well hidden by the mountains that you would not imagine that anything, really anything, not to mention a city the size of Petra, lies hidden there! It was also called the “Lost City” because it is said that was inhabited for over five centuries until it was rediscovered in 1812 by John Lewis Burckhardt, a Swiss explorer.

At the entrance you buy the ticket for your visit. The tickets are 50 JD for a tourist that stays at least one night in Jordan and 90 JD for tourists on one day trip tours.  In the same area where they sell tickets there are also few coffee shops and restaurants for the thirsty and hungry. A few stores also sell local items. I suggest that you buy a hat or a keffieh(a bedouin headscarf) if you got nothing to cover your head. The place has been modernized a lot, compared to what it was few years ago when I also visited. Yes, I came here twice!

When you start walking towards Petra, at the beginning there is a wide-open road. Then the road becomes a narrower path that has been carved through the mountain, called the Siq. The Siq is about 1.2 kilometers long.

If you’re hot, or tired and want to save your breath for the inside visit, or you just want a fun local adventure, you can take a horseback or carriage ride all the way through the Siq. The rides are ran by Bedouins and you can bargain with them for the price. We did that and it was fun.

At the end of the Siq, the mountain walls open. The Treasury stands in front of you; this is probably one of the most famous buildings in the city. When you’re facing it, it feels like you’re in the Indiana Jones movie! The film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed here, in 1989.

It is best to take a tour guide, which is what we have done. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learned so much more about the place than we would have done on our own. After all, a local is a local!

There are many locations to visit in Petra, the Street of Facades( a collection of houses all carved in stone) , the Theater(carved from the rock in one piece; it could seat thousands of people), the Palace Tomb, the Silk Tomb, the Monastery (you will have to climb a steep set of steps to get there)….and many, many others. Petra is a magical place and you cannot stop but wonder, how could the Nabataeans build something so sophisticated such a long time ago! What kind of tools did they have to carve the stone? Who and how did they design the layout of the city? 

The facades are beautiful, not only because of their carving details but also because of the type of rock that they are carved in. Petra is called the Rose Red City because the stone is red-rose limestone.

If you’re tired, you can take a camel ride back to the Siq’s entrace. But be careful! Some of the Bedouin owners they will let you drive the camel on your own, which can be a bit scary and funny at the same time. First, you have to lean backwards for take off ! Yeah, it feels really weird , you feel almost like you’re going to fall backwards and then you’re suddenly so high up!

Then you have to learn how to steer the camel but this is not a difficult skill to pick up, so by the time you’re getting back to the Siq you’ll be a professional….

Petra is a travel back in time! It is a beautiful, unique place… put it on your bucket list !


© Andrada Costoiu and, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.